Public Safety Director Chief Nick Marinelli, Jr. believes in the importance of situational awareness in the GPC community. The recent shootings at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore. and Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Ariz. caused the chief to encourage all GPC students, faculty and staff to be aware of their surroundings at all times.
“I feel like the students have a good awareness, and if some commotion is going on that shouldn’t be happening the students are wise enough to realize what’s going on,” said Harvey Jones, an art major on the Clarkston campus.
In a interview with The Collegian, Marinelli shared his thoughts about the responsibility he holds for the school’s 50 police officers to have a good relationship with the GPC community to help keep the 21,000 students who go here safe.
In a public safety alert released to students, faculty and staff on Oct. 2, Marinelli expressed his views on the importance of that relationship. “Productive relationships between the GPC community and GPC Public Safety will increase our ability to deliver routine and tactical security services in a timely and effective manner,” Marinelli said in the alert.
The chief also feels that people who have good relationships with local police can help them prevent some the horrific tragedies that have occurred at college campuses in the past. MIchael Schmidt, of The New York Times, reported in September 2014 that the FBI released a report that detailed the results they found in a study about active shooting incidents between 2000 and 2013.
According the report, there were 160 incidents in the 14-year span of the study and more than 46 percent of the 1,043 casualties from those shootings died. The more alarming statistics from the report were the increased number of average incidents per year in the last seven years of the study (16.4 incidents from 2007-2013) compared to first seven (6.4 incidents in 2000-2006).The report also revealed that almost a quarter of the incidents occurred at places of education and 60 percent of the incidents ended before the local police could arrive at the scene.
“You’ll hear people who had close ties to a tragic shooting say that there was something odd about the person who ends up being the shooter. Whether it’s in their behavior, clothing, or appearance, and the one thing I always question is why did they not tell the authorities when they sense that something was not right about the person?” said Marinelli.
When asked about his opinion on Marinelli’s observation about students being engaged with police and preventing serious incidents from occurring, Harvey agreed.
“Being involved with police inside and outside campus helps with the reaction time. If you think about it, that’s the only thing you can change. There are other variables you can look at, but not as far as immediate change.” Reducing the time it takes the police to get to the scene can also be a good thing, Harvey added.
Making sure that students are encouraged to be aware of their surroundings when they are on the campus is a big part of how Marinelli hopes to achieve his objective of keeping the campuses of GPC safe. His philosophy is that when members of the community are paying attention to the space around them, they have a better chance to look out for each other and help protect the community.
Students agree that it’s important for them to know where they are and what is going on around them. A good number of them can put the chief’s mind at ease by demonstrating how much they are aware of their surroundings.
“This campus seems to be more secure than other campuses I’ve been on. I used to go to Georgia State, and every day someone would get knocked in the head or their electronics would get taken from them, so over there people tended to be more aware of their surroundings than over here. I admit that I’m a little more relaxed here than when I was downtown, but people do need to be aware of their surroundings, because anything can happen,” said Adrian Isom, and undeclared major on the Clarkston campus.
“I like to walk around and get to know the campus in between classes. I try to walk to a new building every day, because I have new students who ask me where a building is. So I just walk around to see where everything is, and just remember to know what’s on campus,” said Harvey.